The kidnapping of more than 200 teenage girls in northern Nigeria has brought the world’s attention to some of the difficulties girls can face in simply trying to go to school.
Monica Mark reports for The Guardian from Abuja, the Nigerian capital, that the kidnappers have sold some of the girls sold as “brides” to local commanders of the extremist group that took them. It is reported that they have taken other girls to neighbouring Chad and Cameroon for the same purpose. Several girls have died. Others are sick. And all because the kidnappers oppose girls’ basic right to an education.
The distressing situation is an extreme example of the impediments girls can face in getting an education, a human right that all children should possess. Yet, the statistics show that the number of children, especially girls, excluded from school remains high. The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) outlines some of the impediments girls face in this Youtube video:
The video highlights financial constraints, chores, child marriage, child labour, and participation in armed conflict as child soldiers as some of the key issues keeping girls out of school. Lack of trained teachers and overflowing classrooms are factors that can impede the quality of education a child receives if she is able to attend. It also notes that half of the children out of school live in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Clearly, work remains to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of getting all children into primary school by 2015. The next round of targets, to be called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), will have to address this issue. As we highlighted in our post on April 10, the SDGs plan to take a different approach, with greater focus on the “social norms” which hinder gender equality and girls’ access to school.
Through the projects that the 60 million girls Foundation has supported, we are working towards giving some of these children the step up they need.